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Mead High graduate plays in Marine Band

Sat., Jan. 19, 2013

A Spokane native will perform at Monday’s presidential inauguration.

Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Ridlington, a 1991 Mead High School graduate, is a saxophonist in “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band. The band will perform during the 57th Inauguration of President of the United States.

“It’s a great honor,” Ridlington said. “It’s cool to be right there when history is happening.”

The elite Marine Band will play music for the swearing-in ceremony at the White House, lead the second division of the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and perform at the Commander in Chief’s Inaugural Ball.

And Ridlington is one of five from the band tasked with performing at a White House reception following the ball.

“It’s a full day,” he said. “It always makes us glad inaugurations only happen once every four years. They’re pretty tiring but exciting at the same time.”

Ridlington, who has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, earned a spot in the band in 1999 after a highly competitive audition. He’s been playing music since he was 10 and wanted to join the Marine Band because of its prestige.

“The Marine Band has an incredible history and reputation for excellence,” he said. “That was really appealing to me.”

Ridlington was raised in Spokane and lives in Alexandria, Va., with his wife, Amanda, and three sons, Jesse, Judah and Jonah. His parents, Joe and Pam Ridlington, live in Mead.

This will be the band’s 54th consecutive inaugural performance. It was founded in 1798 and has performed for every U.S. president since John Adams.

It was dubbed “The President’s Own” by Thomas Jefferson, himself a musician, after it performed at his inauguration in 1801.

“Playing music is what I love to do best and what everybody in the band loves to do best,” Ridlington said. “We’re all happy to do what we love best at the inauguration.”

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